Curating the Perfect At-Home Oasis

Outdoor living can be enjoyed many months of the year in South Mississippi, and that includes backyards. These spaces can be transformed into at-home oases with planning and careful puchases. Landscapers Kiowa Walley along with the folks at Inside Outside and Compton and Son Appliance & Outdoor Living Center have some helpful tips.

Nicole Barrineau-Matthews and the team of designers at Inside Outside have ideas for outdoor kitchens. “We have designers to assist clients in creating the outdoor spaces of their dreams,” she said. “We have a beautiful showroom appointed with all the things to make your spaces beautiful and functional. We also have an in-house countertop fabrication facility. We work from field measure to installation to ensure our clients have the best finished product. Our designers are also involved in critical layout decisions when needed.”

  “There are so many ways a backyard can be transformed into an oasis that it’s hard to pick just a few. A well-planned outdoor kitchen, seating for socializing, the perfect pool, and landscaping can all make a generic backyard into a relaxing retreat,” Barrineau-Matthews and the designers recommend.

  She adds that because everyone has such varied needs and tastes that a true ideal outdoor kitchen is hard to pin down. “From layout to finishes, every outdoor kitchen is a unique challenge to reach that goal. And it is absolutely possible to have an ideal outdoor kitchen on a budget. Just make sure that you’re up-front about what that budget is.”

  Matt Compton, vice president of Compton and Son Appliance and Outdoor Living Center, says it’s important to have plenty of counter space, including enough space between cooking equipment. “Most of the time you are using platters and larger cooking utensils so leaving adequate space when laying out a kitchen is a must,” he said. “On the equipment side, of course have a grill (charcoal, gas or pellet) and you definitely want a sink so that during prepping you can keep sanitized. Also, storage is a must; if in the budget, dry pantries are good.”

  Compton emphasizes that anyone can totally build a outdoor kitchen on a budget. “The biggest mistake I see is people having  unrealistic budgets as they think since it’s outside it shouldn’t cost so much,” he said. 

  “However, outdoor kitchens fall in line with budgets of interior kitchens as they have all the same features. Granite costs what granite costs inside or outside, you still have cabinets in a sense because you are supplying a brick or stucco base, then having to insert features which cost.”

  Compton says you can definitely stay on a budget for appliances, but cautions that you get what you pay for. “If you buy cheap equipment, you can’t expect the performance of more expensive items.”

  When it comes to outdoor furniture, comfort and durability are important. “On the Coast durability is a must because we live in a area with high humidity and salt in the air. Cheaper furniture won’t last,” he said. “Cushion comfort is a factor but I would focus on the fabric and if the cushions have a flow-through technology to make sure they don’t hold water. You can’t go wrong with plastic or aluminum frames and use a higher end fabric such as Sunbrella.”

  He added, “My biggest suggestion is to use quality products so you can enjoy your investment for years to come and you won’t have the headache of having to find replacements frequently to either match your appliance cutouts or the colors you used originally.”

  A backyard can not be an oasis without landscaping. Kiowa Walley, who has operated a landscaping business for six years, points out that landscaping can go beyond basic plantings to include something for a focul point. “That can be a water feature, fire pit, gazebo, pergola, bird bath or a dry creek bed with rocks,” he says. “Just be sure to adjust it to the size of the house.”

  Walley says there are no plants that are totally maintenance free. “There are a lot of low maintenance plants such as classic azaleas, redbuds, gardenias, hydrangeas, boxwoods, compact holly and pampas grass that only need trimming once a year.”

  The amount of shade and sun is very important for plant material. Then, proportion, repetition, unity and balance come into play to create a flowing, harmonious yard.

  “Yes, you can have landscaping on a budget. You can do simple things such as border beds with old bricks or rocks to help keep everything low maintenance and clean,” he suggests.

  Walley, who studied horticulture in college, has some simple pointers for landscaping:

• Make a plan

• Include measurements, calculations of mulch, straw and stone, width and depth

• Do not overwater

• Do not buy all plants at once

• Get the essentials along the foundation first and fill in accordingly

• Keep plants a foot to a foot and a half from walls

• Do not over plant or clutter to ensure there are no problems later with maintenance.

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